Recorded: 22 Jul 2003
He had this romantic attachment to Cold Spring Harbor from his earliest, I think, visit in 1950. And I think that for a long time he looked upon it as being an adjunct of what would be going on at Harvard and where Harvard students could spend their summers. So it was in the early days, not a matter of this or that. It was a matter of trying to get both worlds together. But then he became a chairman of the—no, when he became acting director then that produced certain tensions. People in our department would want a student here and he would want the same student there. So it became a little bit uncomfortable in that way. But to almost the end he had hoped to make an amalgam rather than a division, but it didn’t work.
Paul Doty (1920-2011), biophysical chemist and activist was an emeritus professor at Harvard University in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and in the Kennedy School of Government. He was also founder of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. Experimenting with isotope separation as a graduate student at Columbia University, he became an advocate for nuclear war prevention. Subsequently, he served as a consultant to the President’s Science Advisory Committee and as a member of the President’s Arms Control Advisory Group.
Doty’s scientific research is focused on elucidating the structure and function of large molecules by optical methods. Responsible for hybridizing single strands of DNA to reform an active double-stranded molecule, his laboratory work helped provide the basis for DNA recombination.
Doty met Jim in 1952 in Cambridge. Four years later he had encouraged Jim to join the Harvard Faculty. Their combined insight and innovation was crucial in determining the fate of the newly created molecular biology department. Doty remained on the Harvard Faculty for over forty-two years.